White Sox

Keppinger expects leg will be fine

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Keppinger expects leg will be fine

Jeff Keppinger is in good shape now but admits earlier this offseason he was worried when an X-ray revealed a broken right fibula rather than a sprained ankle.

The White Sox newest addition said Monday he expects to be ready for spring training when the team reports to Glendale, Ariz. in just over two months. The walking boot worn by Keppinger -- who signed a three-year, 12-million deal with the White Sox on Monday -- comes off Tuesday and he will start his rehab shortly thereafter.

It especially wasnt a fun time, Keppinger said. I thought I rolled my ankle and sprained it. I was wearing flip flops coming down the stairs and just slipped and thought I could catch myself and just didnt land right. I come out of (the walking boot) tomorrow and get on my way with walking and get better so I should be all good shortly. It was pretty nerve wracking.

The competition for Keppinger was heavy this offseason.

The New York Yankees were one of many teams in pursuit of Keppinger, a .288 career hitter, who, along with Dustin Pedroia and Albert Pujols, is one of three hitters with more walks and extra-base hits than strikeouts since 2007. Keppinger is tailor-made for the White Sox as general manager Rick Hahn wants his offense to be less reliant upon the long ball next season. He wants his team to be able to score even when it doesnt hit home runs. Hahn said the White Sox were high on Keppinger from the start of the offseason but the broken leg cooled the chase, at least temporarily.

It actually probably slowed things down a beat so that us and the others clubs involved could get the medical records and post-op report and the follow-up report, Hahn said. It may have slowed things down by a week or two, but there certainly was a great amount of interest in him and we were there from there the start. Once we were comfortable with the prognosis on the fracture we were right there back in it and we were able to close something off down in Nashville last week despite the fact that there was a fair amount of competition.

Keppinger heads into spring as the White Sox third baseman, though he said the club hasnt informed him of where he will play or hit. With no more than 36 strikeouts in any of his eight seasons, Keppinger appears to be a strong candidate for the second spot in the White Sox lineup. Hahn received a good report on Keppinger from assistant GM Buddy Bell, who briefly managed him in Kansas City in 2006 and likes Keppingers makeup.

Jeff adds a valuable and different type of offensive player to our lineup, Hahn said.

Keppinger likes the idea of hitting second because of the different aspects to the offensive approach. Hes a career .288 hitter.

Sometimes you have to take pitches to allow the leadoff batter to steal, Keppinger said. Other times you have to just kind of give yourself up for the team and move guys over for the three hitter. I kind of like the challenges the two hole brings. Its kind of tough sometimes to do all those little things, but I pride myself in being able to get them done.

His first task, however, is to get his right leg back up to speed. Keppinger doesnt anticipate any problems.

That was what I told by the doctors, Keppinger said. Im about to be out of the boot and healed up and basically its just strengthening the leg back up. I should be good to go come spring. That certainly all matters based on how rehab goes but I dont imagine there being any tough parts of rehab that are a struggle for me. I just need to strengthen it back up and get the flexibility back in my foot.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Don Cooper with the inside scoop on Kopech, Rodon and a dozen other pitchers

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Don Cooper with the inside scoop on Kopech, Rodon and a dozen other pitchers

With some of baseball's top pitching talent in the White Sox system, who better to talk about them than longtime White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper? Coop gives us the goods on Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Reynaldo Lopez, Dylan Cease, Joakim Soria and many others. He reveals the adjustment Lucas Giolito made last season that changed everything for the young right-hander, the one White Sox pitcher he thinks will make a big jump in 2018, and explains why he thinks the White Sox could surprise people in 2018.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Meet the Prospects: Thyago Vieira

Meet the Prospects: Thyago Vieira

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

Thyago Vieira

Vieira, the 24-year-old right-handed hurler, has just one inning of big league ball under his belt.

A native of Brazil, Vieira made his major league debut last season for the Seattle Mariners, pitching one scorless inning — and striking out one batter — in an Aug. 14 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. He's since joined the White Sox rebuild, acquired in a November trade that sent international bonus slot money back to the Pacific Northwest.

In the minors last season, Vieira split time between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma, combining for a 4.00 ERA in 54 innings of 41 appearances. He struck out 46 hitters and walked 22. In previous minor league seasons, he showed a good ability to strike out opposing hitters, posting a 10.8 K/9 with Class A Bakersfield in 2016.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Vieira rated as the No. 20 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Vieira in the video above.